Creative Theory Agency’s Adama Kamara served as the lead strategist for the latest round of creative from our Emergency Preparedness campaign, which is designed to reach Black communities that are often disproportionately impacted by natural disasters.
We talked to Adama about her fascinating background, her immersive approach for this work, and the best advice she’s ever received.
Dzu Bui: Can you share a little about your career path and your approach to shaping creative?
Adama Kamara: Before I got to Creative Theory Agency, I actually had not aimed for a career in marketing. I spent most of my life and time at college not even really understanding what a career in this field would look like.
I studied anthropology and international relations in college, and I knew I was interested in doing something related to human rights or social justice, with a special interest in telling stories about Black people. Most of the work that followed was more related to global development and human rights education, from leading a racial equity grant centering Black liberation at Humanity in Action , to a curatorial role highlighting Black Internationalism at the James Weldon Johnson Institute for Race and Difference , to doing research on gender based violence in West Africa at The Carter Center .
I never would have guessed that my background would land me in a marketing career, but when I learned about Creative Theory Agency and all the work they do to champion Black stories, it just made sense. I quickly realized that marketing is deeply rooted in storytelling, and I use the skills from my previous roles and academic background all the time.
I especially find that ethnography, the primary research methodology in anthropology, informs a lot of my perspective as a marketer. Ethnography is all about immersing yourself and really getting up close with a particular community to develop conclusions about them. I find that the work we do as storytellers at CTA requires a deep understanding of the people we’re serving and a genuine appreciation of their history and culture.
What I love about the work I do as a strategist is that I get to leverage things like ethnography and my desire to tell stories in the most fun and creative ways!
DB: Do you think you approached your work on Emergency Preparedness differently than past projects? What were some of the key learnings you found most interesting?
AK: I think that I approached this project a little bit more critically than I typically do. Not that the other work we do at CTA isn’t serious, but when it comes to natural disasters and emergency preparedness, we’re ultimately talking about people's livelihood and safety. Because we were speaking to a Black audience, I was especially aware of how these things disproportionately affect Black communities and wanted to do the weight of that reality justice. This required a lot more research than I typically would engage with, but I’m thankful for folks on my team for so thoughtfully undergoing that process because I think the final product was better for it.
This work also just felt more personal. I was born in New Orleans, and I’ve lived there and still have family there, so I have an intimate understanding of the topic and especially how natural disasters impact Black communities. This perspective really informed the way I approached the creative at every step of making this work come to life, especially in the scripts for the two spots. This was actually my first time taking a crack at writing a script and I took a lot of inspiration from conversations I’ve had with family members in New Orleans and accounts from my own life.
The coolest part of being a part of this work was hearing people, from cast members who were on set in New Orleans to folks I got to connect with from the launch of this campaign, say that they really recognized their experiences in the creative and saw themselves or their family members reflected in the work.
DB: What does the road ahead look like for you?
AK: This is always an entertaining question for me because you’ll get a different answer depending on the day you catch me. Some days I dream of owning an art gallery where I get to educate people about Black art, some days I dream about running my own creative operation where I get to write and produce socially impactful stories, other days I want to go back to school and ultimately teach. I think the real answer is all of the above and so much more.
As long as I get to continue telling stories about communities that matter to me and keep on learning, I know I’m on the right path.
DB: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and how did it help?
AK: This is not quite advice but moreso a mantra. It's my favorite line from an Audre Lorde poem, “New Year’s Day”: “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”
As someone who frequently feels like I’m hastily stumbling through life and often afraid of what’s to come, it's a wonderful affirmation that I can be intentional and that my fears do not have to consume me.